Homegrown Texan

Born and raised in Texas, I've found the home of my heart and soul in the Pacific Northwest. I love trees, cool weather, and rain. I'm a back to basics kind of gal just trying to raise my family and find a bit of time to slow down in this hectic life.

I know I said I'd make "thankfulness" posts.  Then I went to Canada.  It was a trip that I thoroughly enjoyed and needed, and that I am truly very thankful for.  As always, I felt like Dawn, Henry & Matt were my family (even moreso than some of my real family).  And, as always, I didn't want it to end.  However, strangely, it didn't hit me as hard as it usually does.  I think because I know we'll see each other regularly.  Our friendship is just too strong for anything else.

What I wasn't prepared for was how depression would slam into me when I got back.  And it isn't just the "my vacation is over and now I have to face the yucky real world" post-vacation blues that I usually get.  This is full out, I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-myself depression.  I *need* to find a job.  And I have no idea if I can.  During a good moment I feel like it's a numbers game...like I have to go through some magic number of grueling job applications and even more grueling job interviews (engineering interviews last a minimum of 4 hours...most of them last all day) just to win the numbers.  It sort of feels like being told you have to support your family by winning the lottery, so I just keep buying tickets and hope I get the right one before I run out of ticket money (where "ticket money" is both mental & emotional energy, as well as actual money, which I'm running out of).  That's on a good day.  On a bad day like today it feels like God (if I believed in God) is an abusive stepparent, and me finding a job is like me asking to go out with my friends to the movies.  My stepparent makes me go through all the motions of doing all of the chores, getting perfect grades, behaving perfectly, and then maybe, just *maybe* if stepparent hasn't been drinking or hasn't had a bad day, he'll let me go out.

Or...maybe he won't.  The point being that I feel like even my best may not be enough.  And I have no way of knowing.  I'm just supposed to keep doing it.

I am thankful for my youngest son.  For one, his health, as he was born premature and not so healthy.  However, asside from his small size, you wouldn't know it now.  But I also love what a joyous spirit he has, and how amusingly literal he can be.  And I love how sometimes very complex-beyond-his-years thoughts sometimes tumble out of his mouth, and then he goes back to being his usual silly, goofy self.  I love my little son with all my heart.

I am thankful for my husband, who stands behind my decisions and is *always* ok with me taking some time to myself. I know I deserve the time, but he supports me much more than I ever hoped for.  And with the stress that we are going through with my work (or lack thereof), I'm particularly thankful that we've managed to come together on it, rather than let it wedge us apart.  I'm still scared shitless, but at least I'm not facing my fear alone.

Many of my facebook friends are writing daily statements of gratitude on facebook.  I prefer to take a more anonymous face (even though some people I know personally read this blog, it still overall feels more anonymous), plus sometimes I'd like to write more than I would on a facebook status update.  I've been feeling in a funk lately...worried about my job situation, depressed about being stuck in Arizona, and missing my family.  While I feel like I'm justified in having these feelings, I also know that the negative thoughts are becoming too prevalent, and that is not healthy.  Not only that, I am one who believes that negativity, even just in thought, can actually work against a person.  I sometimes have trouble shutting off my thoughts and feelings, but I think replacing them will work better than simply trying to remove them.

So my goal is to write something I'm thankful about every day, starting with today up until and including Thanksgiving day.

I am thankful for my oldest son's sweet soul.  Sometimes it causes him pain, because he tries so hard to do nice things for people, but he doesn't yet understand the art of taking into consideration what other people actually want.  Case in point: today he got up and made pancakes for the family.  Since the kids are out of school, my husband and I wanted to sleep in.  My younger son doesn't really care that much for pancakes, plus he wanted to use his newfound cooking skills to make himself a bowl of oatmeal.  And I was up nearly-but-not-quite puking half the night, so I just wasn't up for food yet (I may venture out and have a cup of herbal tea in a bit).  So pancake-boy's feelings were hurt.  I feel bad for him and hope that he doesn't learn to just shut that part of himself off.  I really don't think he will...it's an integral part of him that has shown itself from a very young age.  People tell me all the time how it shows what great parents he has and while my ego would like to agree, if I am honest with myself I know that this is really just who he is.  Yes, we can (and try to) do our part to nurture it, but this really is just part of the beautiful person that my son is.  And it's one of the many things I love him for.

I'd really like to rip my female parts out right now, since they feel like that's what's being done to them, anyway.

*puts "hysterectomy" at the top of her Christmas wish list*

Do you ever find yourself going down a particular track in life, and suddenly wake up and wonder what the hell it is you're doing?

I just had that happen to me. You see, twice within 2 weeks I had 2 separate friends (who don't know each other) approach me with a business opportunity. They were different opportunities (one is specifically travel related, the other is retail product related), but both are essentially MLMs (one claims not to be, and maybe by some technicality they are not, but the idea is very similar).

Now I don't think either of these are scams. I think they have some good products to offer and I do think the structures are set up such that the potential for making some money with them is there. Especially if you are not looking at it as a "get rich quick" scheme (which I'm not, and they weren't claiming to be). However, for me, there are a couple of problems:

1) I wouldn't use a lot of the products that are offered. The travel one offers some really cool vacations at awesome prices, and while I'd love to participate, traveling with children in school and while trying to hold down a full-time job is not the easiest thing. Plus, I'm pretty sure none of the packages include the travel itself, which for a family of 4, is often enough to prohibit an entire vacation, even if it were free.

The retail opportunity had some good products, but I personally wouldn't use most of them. As an example, they have a great laundry detergent, eco-friendly, for a great price. But I use soap nuts. They have cleaners, but I use baking soda & vinegar. You see what I mean? Hair care products, cosmetics, pet products, the list goes on and on, but I think I may just be too frugal to be a salesperson. And I can't even begin to try to sell things that I don't really use. Which brings me to the second problem.

2) I am not a sales person. When I was in 2nd grade, I had to sell tickets to a pancake supper we were doing for a fundraiser. I was sure people would buy tickets from me, because it was cheap, no one wants to say no to a kid, and who doesn't like pancakes? So off I went (still a little nervous) to our nextdoor neighbor, timidly knocked on the door, and asked if they would like to buy tickets. They told me no, because they were going to be out of town that weekend. I ran home and that was the end of pancake supper ticket sales. I sold some girl scout cookies a few years later, but those pretty much sell themselves, and even then, I hated every minute of it.

So today, I'm going to call the people I've been talking to and let them know I won't be pursuing this opportunity. One won't be so bad; they just brought me to a meeting they were going to anyway, and stressed that it was fine if I didn't want to do it. The other friend I feel bad about because I've actually spent a fair amount of time meeting with him and his business associate. I feel like I've wasted their time and I feel bad about it. But, it will only get worse if I don't put a stop to it. I'd love to have another income, but this will not be it.

You know what I think? I think there's never a perfect time to implement a life-changing decision. There will never be enough time or enough money, the kids won't be the perfect age or in the perfect stage of school.

If you wait for the perfect time, then you'll never get to do anything.

So now, when I have no job offer, am currently working a job that is 2.5 months behind on paying me, am literally living off of my credit cards, have kids who are happy in school and right in the middle of the school year...

...I'm going to move to Oregon. I'm not saying I'm packing up the moving truck tomorrow. I do have a job *prospect* (which means I interviewed with a company who loves me and wants to hire me, but is having to delay hiring for a currently unknown amount of time). I may have to go myself, first. The kids may not get enrolled in the school we want them in (here if we move to Eugene, or here if we move to Portland) right away. We may even move while I don't have a job (which, my whole life, has qualified up there in the top ten list of Scariest Things In The World).

I will not spend another summer in the desert.
I will not spend another October sweating in summer temperatures when I should be thinking about fall and soup and warm crockpotty things
I will not spend another Christmas feeling like I don't want to cook because it's too hot.
I will be somewhere that is green and beautiful and supports nature.
I will be somewhere where I don't get cabin fever in the summer time.
I will be somewhere where I can garden without having to fight the very environment I'm trying to grow things in.
I will be within somewhat reasonable driving distance of my best friend.
I will be somewhere where I can feel happy, where I feel like I can breathe, where I feel at home, where I feel that feeling of a weight being lifted off of me that I always feel when I'm in the forest.

By next summer, I will be living in Oregon.

Today was frustrating. Jim's brother is in town from Seattle, and he wanted to spend some time with the boys while he's here. This is the first time I've seen him show that much interest in them. I don't mean this in a negative way, I just think that he's a little bit intimidated by younger kids. Now the boys are old enough to play with. The original plan was to take them to Sunsplash. He & Jim bought tickets online, but when they got there, they found that it was closed except on weekends (presumably because most kids have started school already, although my boys don't start until next week. Thank God, it's barely August, for Pete's sake! But I digress...). So they took the boys to the free Tempe splash area for about an hour, then dropped by the house to change clothes and head out to Bahama Buck's. Afterwards, they headed out to go bowling. The original plan was to go a little later in the day (on another day) and I would go along, too. I was even strongly considering cutting out of work a little early this time, but probably half an hour before I would have left, I got The Email.

The Email asked me and some other to submit our MRs (basically software bug fixes) to be built later today for our client. Which would have been find except, well, I still have more work to do and I kinda sorta forgot. Maybe forgot isn't the exact word. I've been trying to work on two projects at once, and I just don't seem to multitask at work as well as I used to. I don't know if it's me, or that the work I'm doing doesn't lend itself as well to task switching, but the end result was that I didn't get it done. I had done the work initially, but then found some problems in test and hadn't gone back and fixed them.

So I talked to my manager about it (he was cool) and we agreed that I'd finish up today, tomorrow at the latest. And I delved into it and found that I have no freaking clue how this software has ever worked. I'm seeing problems way beyond the code I changed and now I've got to backtrack who knows how far back to find out what the problem is.

So I decided I'd work on it after dinner, and off I went to make baked chicken & bacon/rosemary risotto. Since one of our guests tonight (did I mention we were having people over? Yeah, we were. And I had taken food out of the freezer that we would never eat before we go camping this weekend, so I didn't want to just get takeout and waste the food) has diabetes, I decided to use brown arborio to make the risotto. I knew it would take longer, but holy hell, I had no idea how long. I think I started cutting the veggies at 5:15, had everything in the pot around 5:45 (this took a while because I had forgotten to thaw the bacon...yeah, you can see how this is going). That risotto wasn't done until 7:30. Yep, that's right. An hour and 45 minutes spent standing over the hot stove, stirring, knowing that everyone is starving and my kids are cranky because they've been out and about and over-sugared today.

On the up side, the risotto *was* good. The chicken was...ok. I don't know what my deal is with chicken, but it usually seems to come out either bland, dry, or both. This time it wasn't dry, but it *was* bland, in spite of the seasonings I had smothered it in . Oh, well, at least there was risotto. And bacon. The kids were practically falling asleep at the table, but didn't want to give up on eating. I had to make them leave, which was yet another fiasco (particularly with Nathan). I knew he was just overtired so I tried to ignore his wails, but boy, was it hard. When he gets like that, he just can't stop and I know this about him, but it's so hard to listen to. I left in his bed sobbing quietly (but on a good note on my part, with lots of love and hugs and understanding). Good parenting moment for me (for once), but still a sucky experience.

Then we sat down to watch Gran Turino. I had already seen it at my dad's house, and I was glad, because that meant I could doze in and out of the movie and still know what was going on. That's exactly what I did.

I hope tomorrow goes smoother with the software bug finding, and with the kids at meal and bed time.

Have you ever met someone who, from the very start, you just really connected with?

That's how it was with my husband. When we met, he lived in Arizona and I in Texas, but we were on vacation in Colorado. We hardly spoke...a mutual friend (who I also met quite by accident there) introduced us. I thought he was cute, I guess he liked my smile, but I was shy and he was involved with someone else and it didn't go any farther than that.

A few months later he tracked down my phone number and called me. My dad answered the phone, but I *knew* it was him. My heart skipped a beat. I couldn't believe he had actually called. We talked for a bit, but then we mostly wrote letters. Long distance wasn't cheap and we were both students, so lengthy phone calls weren't an option. We "dated" via snail mail...got to know each other and as crazy as it sounded, I felt myself falling in love with the man behind the paper. A few months later we met in person for the first time. I worried that the chemistry wouldn't be there, or that he would think I was ugly, or something. But when he showed up at the door, it was like that final piece of the puzzle fell into place. A couple of months later we met again, and got engaged. And the rest is history.

Now, I have met friends in just as unlikely of a manner, and feel just as strong of a bond with them (although not in a romantic sense). I wrote before about my World of Warcraft friend. They visited in March, and the visit went fabulously. Everyone got along beautifully, better than I could have ever expected. I wondered what Henry would think about this weird group of gamers, or if he and Jim would get along. I wondered if their son, Matt, would think we were a boring group of dorks. As it turned out, I think we bonded really closely in a really short period of time. It just felt so easy with them, like we had all known each other forever. No pretenses, no awkward moments, no feeling of having to hold back or worry if someone was going to offend anyone. No feeling of "this has been nice, but I'll be ready to have the house back to ourselves when they leave". No "well I love her, but her husband is a little off". I truly love the whole family with all my heart and feel completely at ease with all of them, and I think we were all sad when it was time for them to go. I knew the week would fly by, but I had no idea the emptiness I would feel after they were gone. I hadn't felt like this since Jim and I were dating long distance and had to be apart. I spent hours mooning over the pictures of our trip and reminiscing. What the heck was wrong with me?

I talked to Dawn about it, and she felt the same way, too. *Whew*, at least I'm not the only crazy one! I wanted for us all to go out and visit them during the summer, but my job has been too sketchy for me to commit the finances. However Dawn couldn't stand it and offered to fly me out. I felt bad after they had just paid to come down here, but then I thought that if the tables were switched, I'd do the exact same thing. How could I refuse? So I just got back from spending a fabulous week with them. As I told Dawn, just when I thought I couldn't feel any closer to them, I do. They treated me like royalty and while the camping and sightseeing were absolutely spectacular, I have to say that the very best part of all, by far, was spending time with them. I feel kind of crazy saying it, but it just feels like we were meant to be together. I feel guilty that I can't say that about my friends here, some of whom I've known for 15 or 20 years. I didn't even realize it, but Dawn and Henry (and Jim) are the only people who I don't feel like I have to hold anything back from. They accept me completely for who I am, and don't judge me when my opinions differ from theirs. I can only hope that I've conveyed the same sort of feeling to them, because that's exactly how I feel. I love them with all my heart and feel like something is missing when I'm away from them. As much as I love and missed Jim and the boys, leaving their house to come home was truly one of the hardest things I've ever done. And here I am, yet again, mooning over pictures from our visit, reveling in the wonderful memories.

So now I'm trying very hard to plan a visit to their house (for the whole family) at Christmas time. My job is still up in the air so finances are still an issue. But I really, really want to make it work (and am probably willing to be more risky about it than Jim is, and than I normally would be for anything else). That's how much they mean to me. Aside from Jim, Dawn is my best friend in the world. I certainly didn't mean to become best friends with people who live 1500 miles away, in another country, even. But just as I felt when Jim had our long distance relationship, I wouldn't do it any differently. I'd like to be closer and hope to make that happen some day, but until then our friendship will remain strong from right where we are.

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. Our finances are kind of crap, so we didn't get gifts for each other. Ok, we are weird about gifts, anyway. Usually we kind of pick out our own gifts. We're so laid back about this sort of thing. We're also both techi-geek types and are very particular about what we want. I know that I won't pick out the right thing for my husband, and he knows the same about me. I think the closest he came to buying a gift for our anniversary one year was to tell me "I know you want a GPS, so tell me which one you want". I ended up finding some screaming deals (and I do mean screaming...to the tune of over $100) and ordering it myself. But it still felt like a gift to me, like I had permission to buy it. Permission is probably the wrong word. We don't withhold money from each other. We just discuss purchases and whether we think we can afford them. I probably hold a little bit more of the decision making power because I do the books and I have the primary income. Not having the primary income gives me more "rights" over our money, I just have a better idea of what's coming in is all. Maybe power isn't the right word. More like responsibility.

Anyway, to my husband's credit, he wanted to get me either an MP3 player, an upgraded GPS, or a digital SLR camera this year, all of which are things that I really want (GPS is last on my list just because what I have is a perfectly good one. There are newer ones with more bells and whistles with respect to geocaching, but the one I have now is perfectly good and was even considered top of the line when I bought it 3 years ago). In fact, his plan was to hold back some of his checks from his freelance work (which he usually doesn't do) and buy one of these things for me. But finances are weird right now (long story), so that didn't happen.

What we *did* do was go out for a date night. We don't do this often enough. Not because we don't want to, and not because we're afraid to leave the kids. It's because we are horrible planners. If it weren't for a standing invitation every Tuesday night for a particular couple to come over, and for seeing people through the kids' school activities, I wonder if we would ever see anyone. We have people who will babysit, for free even, but it doesn't work to say "can we drop the kids off, like, now? Because we just decided we want to go out. So can we rearrange your entire evening for you? Thanks."

Anyway, my mother-in-law offered to have the kids over for a sleepover for our anniversary. So I left work a little early and we dropped them off in time to catch an early movie. I knew if we waited until later, I'd fall asleep during the movie. You see, I can't watch any form of screen in the complete dark because I will get sleepy. The contrast of the bright screen with the surrounding darkness makes me feel a bit squinty, and it never quite goes away. The more tired I am, the more likely that squint will turn into closed eyelids. And I'm not a late night person to begin with. If you spend much time with me at evening gatherings, you will eventually find me sacked out in a chair in the corner.

Being the big kids that we are, we saw the movie "UP" in 3D. It was cute, well done, and even a little bit romantic in parts. And sad in parts (I actually cried at one part; I'm such a sap). Then we went to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I didn't have any "adult beverages" or dessert. I just wasn't in the mood. I did splurge on an iced tea, something I haven't been doing lately, because it is so overpriced for what you get ($3.50 for a few glasses of tea? Seriously.). But I *was* in the mood for the tea, so that's what I got. I also had lamb chops with cabernet sauce (mmmmmmm), a loaded baked potato, and seasonal veggies. Well, I was supposed to have the seasonal veggies with my meal, but they never brought them. I forgot about them until I was leaving the restaurant, stuffed, and realizing that I probably wouldn't reheat them if I brought them home, anyway. Anyway, my meal was delicious.

Jim had a ribeye steak, garlic mashed potatoes, and a baked potato (yes, double potatoes). His was all delicious, too.

Afterwards, we came home and watched the final episode of Legend of the Seeker that was on the DVR. And then we went to bed, just like the old married couple that we are. It was a wonderful evening. :)

Sad...that I didn't get to be at home for my kids' early childhood, and that I don't get to be home for their summers. Yes, I work from home, but I'm holed away in my office where I really don't get to see them.

Tired...of the hot, dusty summers. I hate the heat, especially when there is SEVEN MONTHS of it, and I hate dust. I really do hate it here.

Depressed...that my job is so uncertain, but even more important and frightening, that I can't seem to get motivated to look for another job.

What I really want: to be a stay at home mom. To volunteer at my kids' school, or homeschool my kids (in a very interactive, make sure they are involved in activities with other kids sort of way, not a reclusive sort of way). To grow our own food. To be nearer my parents. To be somewhere cooler and more green. Some of these things are mutually exclusive, I know, but I can't even seem to get one thing right at this point.

I feel so beaten down right now, I don't even know how to move. I know I'm the one who has to change my life, but I don't know how. I don't know what to do.

I love Indian food/curry, but have never known how to make it. Several years ago I spent hours researching recipes, bought all sorts of ingredients I knew nothing about, and slaved away in the kitchen in an attempt to reproduce one of my favorite Indian restaurant dishes: palak paneer. What I came out with was the most bland, tasteless thing on the planet. Being unfamiliar with the spices, I had no idea what to do to correct it. We opted to go out, and that meal has gone down in history as my Worst Meal Ever. Seriously. And I've been afraid to try it again.

Then a few months ago, we invited Leaner to our house for burgers. I asked her to bring a side dish, and she brought a curry with cauliflower, potatoes, and green peas. I've never been much of a cauliflower or green pea fan, but in the interest of being polite, I took a small portion. And oh. my. god. That was the best stuff, ever. I didn't even know I was eating usually-hated vegetables. I seriously could have eaten the whole pot of the stuff. She was gracious enough to give me her recipe, and told me that garam masala is the secret ingredient (and was even nice enough to pick some up for me from the market she buys it at....nice, wasn't she?). I haven't made that exact recipe, in fact I'm embarrassed to admit that the first time I used it was a trashy eats rendition of ramen noodles I threw together for lunch one day (but they were yummy ramen noodles :) ). However today I was trying to figure out a way to use some quinoa I've been wanting to try, and it occured to me to try the curry again. And it was *delicious*.

You'll have to bear with me here because I don't really measure, so all amounts are approximate

Curried Potatoes & Spinach with Quinoa
- Enough cooked quinoa for the number of people you want to serve; about 1/4-1/3 cup dried quinoa per person
- diced potato; about 1 small per person
- chopped fresh spinach (you could probably use frozen); about 1.5 cups per person
- chopped nuts (optional)
- olive oil
- salt
- onion, diced (I used dehydrated minced because my onion turned out to be rotten on the inside) about 1/4 onion per person
- garlic, 1-2 cloves per person (I love garlic), minced
- garam masala
- broth (I used chicken, but you could also use veggie)
- goat cheese or yogurt for topping (optional)

Cook the quinoa, 2 to 1 ration of water to quinoa. Cook it like rice (covered); it will take about 20 minutes once it starts to boil. Be sure and rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve before cooking to rinse the natural saponin coating off (the saponin gives it an unpleasant bitter flavor).

Sautee the onions and diced potatoes in olive oil. Cover with a lid to help the potatoes steam a bit. After about 5 minutes, sprinkle about a spoonful per person of garam masala add in the minced garlic, salt to taste, and stir to combine. Add in enough broth to cover the pan. You don't want a real brothy sauce, the broth is just to give the dish a little moisture. Cover.

When the potatoes are almost done (about 10 minutes later) add in the chopped spinach and nuts. Stir to combine and cover to allow the spinach to steam about (about 3 minutes).

Here is what it looked like when I added the spinach in:

Once the spinach is wilted, serve over the quinoa. I've discovered that I love goat cheese combined with curry, so I crumbled some of that on top. Yogurt would also work well, or you can skip them both.

After the spinach has wilted; this is ready to serve:

If you like heat you could add in some diced peppers with the onions, or fresh on top as a garnish.

Here it is plated up. Unfortunately my camera flash tends to wash things out when I take close up shots.

Pitter-patter, pitter-patter, pitter patter
goes the rain outside. The open doors allow the cool rain-scented air to permeate the house. I know it is short-lived, that soon we will be back to the punishing, scorching desert heat.

But for now, I enjoy the clouds and the rain.

I'm a bit of a snob about coffee. Perhaps it is because I've always had *good* coffee. When I first started drinking it, I, as usual, was trying to emulate my dad. Of course I only drank it black. That's how my dad drank it and it just wouldn't do to drink "wuss coffee". I thought it tasted vile, but I drank it anyway. And I grew to like it. I loved the smell, the way the warm mug (must be a ceramic/glass mug, never plastic!) felt in my hands, and the way the flavors swirled on my tongue.

When I was 16 or so, I went to work in an office where they had regular ole Folger's coffee. It smelled good and I thought "it can't be that bad". But, oh, let me tell you, it was. It was a small office, just me and the accountant I worked for. He was a very nice man and after saying I was a coffee drinker, I couldn't bring myself to tell him his coffee, well, sucked. But I could hardly stomach it, so I drank it with cream. That tempered the nasty edge the coffee had. I never drank my coffee with sugar. I've tried it, but I just don't like the taste of it.

Now I like my coffee, even my *good* coffee, with cream. Usually at home I just use milk, but occasionally I'll treat myself to cream or half and half. During the work week, I drink it from a sturdy mug. But on the weekends, I like to use a dainty little cup Jim bought for me at a school auction. It makes me feel like I'm treating myself. It's pretty and girly, which is usually not me, but I like it.

Unfortunately, this is an example of why I'm not a photographer...the color washed out a bit too much. Maybe it's also an example of why I need a better camera (or at least one with more adjustments on it).

Don't those beans look gorgeous? I love a good, dark roasted coffee. I also try to find organic coffee, because most conventional coffee is treated with pesticides. I don't really want to drink bug spray with my coffee. That just doesn't sound good, and it can't be healthy.

My friend Dawn recently visited me from Canada. She works in a coffee shop there, and brought me a bag of the coffee that they brew there. She chose one of their darkest roasts, because she knows that I like that. And oh, that stuff is heaven. So now, not only am I a coffee snob, I'm addicted to a local *Canadian* coffee. Thankfully, Dawn was kind enough to order a case of it for me (at wholesale cost!) and send it to me. Not very carbon footprint-friendly, but I couldn't resist. I just *love* this coffee!

It's from Kootenay Coffee Company, in Nelson, B.C. It smells delicious (the postman said he didn't even want to deliver it to me because it made his truck smell so good), and it tastes delicious. And I just love to say the word "Kootenay". Kootenay, Kootenay, Kootenay!

I have a big case of TGIF. I'm feeling very stressed and drained right now, and am really looking forward to vegging this weekend. My biggest goal is to play WoW all day tomorrow. Pretty pathetic, I know, but I need the time to decompress.

Sunday I'll do my usual grocery shopping at the farmer's market & Trader Joe's. I usually go every Sunday morning...I go to the farmer's market first, and then get whatever I couldn't find at TJ's (and Sunflower Market, if I need things from there). I didn't go last week because it was Mother's Day and for my day I chose not to have to go out into the heat. It was nice, but I will be glad to get back into my routine. Our eating this week has been thrown off a bit because of it. Jim went shopping for me on Monday or Tuesday, which was awesome, but there are some things I just need to be able to look at and decide on myself.

Oh, and I'll be doing laundry this weekend, as usual. I've stopped using the dryer to save on money and to try to eek more life out of the old one we have, which means I have to stay on top of the laundry because I'm using a drying rack that only holds one load at a time. So I can't let the laundry pile up and do it all in one day like I used to. But I really don't mind. Jim does the folding, which is the part I really hate. I actually sort of enjoy the quiet time outside when I'm hanging or removing the clothes (as long as I do it early in the morning or late at night, when it's not too hot).

Sunday is my mother-in-law's birthday. We did not go see her for Mother's Day (although Jim did take her to see Star Trek on Monday night). I felt sort of guilty about this, but it was my day too, and I don't really like going over to her house. She smokes, and so the whole house smells like smoke. It gets in my nose and hair and I can always smell it even after I leave until I take a shower again. It irritates my eyes, ears, and throat and I just don't like being over there. Plus she tends to have the TV on a lot, which I dislike. I hate having constant noise on. I'm not anti-TV by any means; I do have shows that I watch. But I don't like having it on all the time.

But I do feel like we should do something for her birthday. I'd actually like to make her dinner, as she has done for us so many times. I'd really rather make it at home, as I don't like cooking in her kitchen (nothing against her kitchen, it's just not mine; plus I'd have to haul everything over, and I'd invariably forget something). I'd like to make some salmon, rosemary risotto, and a salad. I wonder if she'd want to come over for that. She doesn't really like to leave her house any more than I like to leave mine, so it's a toss-up whether that would be at treat for her or not. I will ask Jim and see what he thinks.

Tonight is our weekly game night with the kids. We used to play board games, but we've sort of let it turn into Wii night. I'm not sure how I feel about that. They do enjoy the Wii, and we don't let them play it much at other times because we don't like them to spend a lot of time in front of the TV for entertainment. We prefer that they spend their time in actual play. And they are pretty good about it. But on the other hand, it feels a little bit less like together time when we play the Wii than it did when we played board games. I'm still figuring it out, but for now at least we'll keep it like it is.

Oh, and dinner. I had planned on making chile con queso & beans (something the boys love) for dinner, but we may be going out. The cheese sauce and beans I had portioned away aren't thawed because I forgot to set them out until a couple of hours ago, and I feel kind of brain dead, anyway. I could use some time out. So I guess I'd better get off of here and talk to hubby about dinner.

I've been posting some downers lately, so thought I'd focus on something positive. :)

Yesterday Nathan lost his first tooth! A few days ago he bit into something and cried out in pain. I looked, and his one of his bottom front teeth was quite loose. He's been avoiding chewing with that part of his mouth since then. Then last night he and Michael were eating (we usually eat dinner together, but I was having a bad day and didn't get it together to prepare a meal, so they were eating easy stuff) and I noticed them both hunting around on the floor for something. Turns out his tooth came out while he was eating. He didn't feel it anywhere, he just noticed it was gone. I told him he probably swallowed it (it was a little *tiny* tooth) and he immediately started bawling. I quickly recovered, telling him that if he left a note for the tooth fairy, she could look for it, because she's magic (more on just how magical she is in a minute). So I helped him write a note, he signed his name, and then he wanted me to add a request for what color his gem would be (again, more on that in a minute).

After the boys were in jammies, teeth brushed, and read to, we all congregated in their bedroom for a small ceremony. I turned out all the lights, lit a candle, and read a special poem. You see, in our house, the tooth fairy doesn't leave money. Something as dainty and magical as a fairy just doesn't carry around dollar bills, you know? Instead, she brings a gem:

This night it is a special night
As fairies dance upon the roof.
All the fairies must alight,
For Nathan just lost a tooth!

The Fairy Queen gives her commands-
Twelve bright fairies must join hands
Then together in a circle stands
To guard Nathan while he sleeps.

The Tooth Fairy into the circle leaps
The hidden tooth she takes
Ah, but has far to go
Before Nathan awakes.

Three times around the world she flies
Over valleys deep and mountains high;
Skirts the storm clouds thick with thunder,
Wings over waves all wild with wonder.

Deep within their earthly homes
Finally she finds the gnomes,
Who upon the tooth must work
Never once their duty shirk.

Some are hammering, hammering, hammering,
Some the bellows blow
Others sweat at the sweltering forge
And then cry out, "Heigh Ho!"

The tooth's been turned to a shining stone,
A glimmering, glowing gem
The tooth Fairy takes the gnomes' good gift,
And bows (curtsies) to all of them.
Before the sun's first rays are shown,
She returns to Nathans bed,
And then - - - away she's flown!

Ok, so the thing that I was so devastated about yesterday is that I found out my son's teacher may not be hired back next year. My son goes to a "Waldorf-inspired" charter school, and one of the unique things about this school is that the teacher follows the children for the 1st through 8th grades. 1st grade is kind of a funny year because it is the first year where the children have to, you know, sit down and do stuff (in kindergarten participation is encouraged, but not so forced as long as the child is not being out and out disruptive). So there is always a transition period for the children while they get used to the longer day and the new format. Add to this the fact that this was the teacher's first year teaching, and they had quite a learning curve ahead of them.

The first of the year I think may have been a bit chaotic. I think there were some children that had a hard time settling down. I know my son was bored with the drawing material (he's a talented drawer, so this didn't surprise me), and acted out because of it. The teacher was very gentle with him about it, we all sat down and talked. Michael learned that he needed to grow up a little and just deal with it, and the teacher did come up with some new things for him to do. So it all worked out. As we near the end of the year, I feel like the class has really hit it's pace. My son seems to be really excited about school again. I was very excited about next year. I talked with the teacher a few weeks back and he was telling me about some of his plans for the following year. I was really excited about the upcoming years, and felt lucky to have this new, fresh, excited teacher who seems to really care about the kids and want to just keep getting better. I'd much rather have someone like that, who makes some mistakes along the way, than someone who may be more polished overall, but is stagnate.

And then yesterday I found out that his contract most likely will not be renewed. I won't go into details because I'm not sure how much of what I know is supposed to be public knowledge. I will just say that I am about 99% certain that politics are involved. Which really pisses me off, because not only is he getting a raw deal, but the kids suffer. I am dreading telling my son that he won't have this teacher next year (I think maybe his teacher will tell him, but what I really dread is him having to find out, no matter the source). I know he was really excited about continuing on with him. The class is working on a play right now, and they are all excited about it, but for me it is so bittersweet. I have literally been in tears off and on since last night; last night I had to drink a triple shot of Scotch (something I rarely do) just to get myself drowsy enough to let sleep take over the churning that was going on in my mind. And then when I woke up, it was the first thing that popped into my head, immediately followed by this knot in the pit of my stomach.

I don't get to talk to the other parents very much, but Jim does. He hasn't heard any complaints about the teacher. And I know of at least one family who feels the same way that we do about it. I really hate politics and crap. I feel like there is something I should be doing. I feel like I should fight. I'm not a confrontational person, but this is big, and it involves people I care about. I care about this teacher as both a teacher, and as a friend. And obviously I care about my son. I just don't know what I can do, or at least what I can do that will make a difference.

Did you know that I hate the phone? Well, I do. When I was a little girl, I was actually scared to talk on the phone. I have no idea why. I remember the feeling, but I don't remember what I was afraid of, exactly. My parents would make me place phone calls in an attempt to get over this fear. I specifically remember one occasion where I wanted to go somewhere, and they told me I needed to call and make sure the place was open. My response? "Never mind, I don't want to go."

I'm not anywhere near that pathetic now. My first job out of college was working in the IT department for Motorola, which meant that I had to take lots of phone calls, so I got over any lingering fear of the phone pretty quickly. And now I telecommute full time, so I have to use the phone. I'm ok with it, but I still don't like it. I'd much rather use email or instant messaging.

I've been trying to figure out why that is. I think it's because I like to think things through before responding. When I'm on the phone, I feel put on the spot, and I don't like that. This really only applies to business type decisions. But I don't really like talking on the phone with my friends, either. Being a female, this is kind of weird. It's like, I have a mutant gene or something. I'm supposed to like talking on the phone. I don't feel put on the spot with my friends, per se. I think it's just that I'm not a particularly chatty person. Hmmm, that's not always true. I can sit and talk to some people forever. But sometimes I don't have anything left to say. Or just don't feel like talking. When I'm sitting with someone, small silences aren't weird. But they are awkward on the phone. I also don't know how to end the phone call. I feel like I have to have some acceptable reason to get off the phone. So I find myself looking for something, like "I need to make dinner" or "I need to put the kids to bed". If I don't have something like that going on, I panic, because then I don't know what to say besides "I'm tired of being on here, I want to go". Which feels rude. And it usually has nothing to do with the person on the other end, I'm just ready to be off.

I guess I'm just not a very verbal person. Maybe that's it.

I just found out some news that is very devastating to me, and that directly impacts my children.

No, no one died, or is terminally ill, or anything like that. And my children are fine and nothing has happened to them. I can't go into more details right now, but all I can say is I'm angry, hurt, sad, frustrated, and scared. I feel sick inside and can't wait until I go to sleep, because that's the only possible way I can think of to escape how I feel right now.

First off, I already know that I'm only guaranteed about 20-30% of my normal salary for the month of April.  Yep, you read that right.  My company is in huge financial trouble.  Basically we're trying to get our product done and sold to what I think are some very good potential markets in the October timeframe.  Only thing is, some of us (like, ahem, me) need money *now* to pay our bills, buy groceries, etc.  I can handle 25-30% paycut, but 70-80 just doesn't work.  That doesn't even pay our basic bills (and I've already paired down everything...keeping certain things because breaking the contracts would cost us enough that cancelling the service is pointless; plus it increases our immediate expenses which is the opposite of what I need to do).  Our owner keeps saying he's going to secure investment funds, but I haven't seen that come to fruition, and I"m not sure it's going to.  We do have an outstanding payment from a client that will bump us up to the 50% mark, but that still does nothing for the upcoming months.

Bottom line is I need to find another job.  And I don't trust our owner.  I think he's just hoping he can keep things going long enough to get this product out.  Why he bought us at the end of last year when he didn't have enough funds to see us through a year is beyond me.  He owes the company he purchased us from a considerable amount of money.  I just think it will be  a miracle if this thing takes off.  And I don't have the personal funds to make it through this.  I spent up all of my savings (which wasn't as much as  it should have been) when I was laid off *last* year.  My home equity line of credit just got revoked for no reason, considering what I owe + the credit limit was still way less than the house is worth, even at today's standards.  So right now I've got a couple of thousand plus credit cards.  That's it.

My used-to-be-manager/very long-time coworker and friend called me today and told me to spend most of my time job hunting. And that if my current manager starts asking about my assignments, to tell him and he'd figure out a way to ward him off.  That's not a very good sign.

I've been submitting resumes, but I'm convinced that they go in bitbuckets.  I have strong experience and skills.  I have glowing references, although that does nothing if I can't get far enough for people to read them.  I'm lacking in some of the newer technologies, although I do have the drive and ability to learn new things as needed.  If someone said "here this is in Ruby on Rails" I could go learn it, but I don't have the time to just go learn every technology out there so I can talk about it intelligently in an interview.

So I've resubmitted my resumes on the job boards, based on my suspicion that "new" resumes generate contacts.  I think that's where I got contacts for my other job prospects last year.  I'm looking at some freelance sites.  Toying with the idea of doing websites for people.  I have experience with parts of that, but not all of it.  I know I could figure it out.  I'm not sure how to get those contacts.  I'm not a very good salesperson.

Also trying to think of what else I could do, for myself.  It used to be that you took risks to work for yourself, at the return of being your own boss, having flexibility, and having the potential to make more money.  You worked for companies to get stability and security.  Well now companies don't offer that, so what's the point?  And the salaries aren't that great anymore, either.  How can I compete with engineers who work offshore for $10/hour?  I think Jim and I could do personal IT support/repair for people, although again, not sure how to break through to get enough from that to live off of.  I'm just out of ideas and feeling so panicked that I can't think enough to make any reasonable decisions.  So I sit here and churn and accomplish nothing. 

At least I did get my resume updated and resent today.  And I did apply for some more jobs.

"Heaven's just there to make people not be scared of dying."
-Michael, age 8

Yesterday I received a box of formula samples in the mail. Yes, baby formula. Yes, my *youngest* son is 6. I guess they aren't exactly doing focus marketing.


Not because my son is way too old. That didn't piss me off, that just made me laugh at their stupidity. It just make me angry that there is very little support for moms who want to breastfeed, or to encourage moms to breastfeed. I was recently at a party that happened to have a lot of members from La Leche League present.  One of the ladies just lost her job as a lactation consultant at the local hospital (where I delivered Michael) because her entire department got cut.  This made me sad, but it also made me mad as I thought about it more, because I remembered back to when I had Michael, and not once did anyone mention that there was any kind of help at all with breastfeeding.  I had all sorts of formula cans dumped on me, unsolicited mind you, but even though I made it very clear that I very much wanted to breastfeed, not once did anyone say "if you run into any problems there is a lactation team you can talk to".  I *do*  remember being told that if I chose not to breastfeed, there was a little class I could go to where I could learn how to dry myself up with minimal pain and discomfort.  Gee, thanks.

Anyway, receiving these samples just brought it all back to me.  I understand that there is no money to be made in promoting breastfeeding, and all sorts of money to be made in promoting formula feeding.  And as a big fan of the free market, I get that.  And I'm not debating the formula companies' rights to market the way they do. I just think it's unethical, and I hate that.  It's not like they wouldn't have a market if they didn't.  I mean, WTF, how much money do they need to make?

So, I wrote "return to Sender" on the box.  And in big black magic marker I wrote things like "Breastfeeding promotes growth and minimizes illness", "Human milk for human babies", "Support breastfeeding moms".  I also responded to comments on the box: "Motherhood rocks, and so do you" (response: "I sure do, I make my own milk!").  "A free gift of nutrition for you baby...inside" (response: "Yep, unlimited supply free, right inside my body!")

I don't feel like there are many people I can tell about it, because most people I know formula fed.  And you know, I don't judge them for it.  For some people it probably really was the best decision, and for many of them, they just don't have the support and encouragement that they need.  I was pretty much a lone island, following the example of my mom who breastfed both my brother and I (something I consider just short of miraculous, especially in my case considering with me she was a 17 year old mom in 1972...the times were certainly not on her side).  For whatever reason it's something I've felt very strongly about since I was a child, and it's something that just makes sense to me.  I don't believe everyone has that same sense of "what the hell else would you do?" as I do.  And that's cool.  It just seems that every effort is made as soon as possible to undermine the chance that moms will make that choice.  And I hate that.

I know what I did won't do a damn bit of good, but it made me feel better.  Rather than send it back, I may even decide to take the formula out of the box and donate it to a local shelter, since that would probably do more good.  I did tell my mom about it.  She laughed when I told her what I wrote, and then when I started ranting about it she said (sarcastically) "wow, I guess you feel kind of strongly about that".  Haha...yeah, I guess I do.

So many moons ago, in the hills near Loch Modan, my husband and I met a lady (who looked like a man-elf, but a very handsome man-elf).  After a little talking we decided to join forces and slay the evil beasts that roamed the country there.  As time went on, we went on many quests together, combating the forces of evil together as our alliance grew into a friendship.

I am, of course, talking about a game.  An online game.  World of Warcraft, to be exact.  The lady's name is Dawn, but she played a male elf character.  We met in-game and enjoyed playing together, so added each other to one another's "friends" list.  And as we played we chatted (online) and learned that we have a lot of common interests.  We're near the same age.  We have similar senses of humor.  Sometimes we would log onto the game and just chat without really playing at all.  Eventually we exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and from that texts and Christmas gifts.  A friendship born out of a silly online game.

And next month, Dawn and her family (husband and son) are coming all the way from Canada to visit us for a week.  It started out in a chat conversation between her and I, where we referred vaguely to "if we get to meet each other some day".  Next thing we know, she's checking out airline ticket prices and hoping her husband is game.  Turned out he was, she found some deals, and we're set to have visitors!

Now we just have to get the house ready.  I'm excited because our add-on family room has been unusable for a while (read: full of junk).  The A/C ventilation in there doesn't work very well, so we stopped using the room.  But since we don't have a guest room, we want Dawn & Henry to at least be able to have a little privacy; if this room is ready they will be at the back of the house and we can hang up a curtain to give them some privacy.  And we'll have more room to hang out, too, since the living room in the front we've been using gets crowded pretty quickly.  So Jim is working on getting it ready.  Which means, not only do we get to have a really fun visit, but when it's over we'll have more house.  How cool is that?

I'm totally stoked about this visit.  I seriously cannot wait.  I little bitty tiny part of me is worried that things will be weird.  What if we don't click?  What if it's awkward?  But you know, I really, really don't think it's going to be that way.  I mean, I'd be absolutely amazed if it did.  I think we're going to get to the end of the week and wonder how the time went by so quickly.  So I guess we'll just have to plan our own trip.

My older son's 1st grade class gets to help take care of the chickens at school.  As a reward, occasionally they get to bring home an egg.  Michael brought an egg home a couple of days ago, and today he gets to have it for breakfast.  He said it's the best egg he's ever tasted.  I buy local, farm-fresh eggs, but they're never *that* fresh.  So cool!!!

When I got off work, everyone was exhausted (Jim had a rough day, too).  We didn't feel like going out.  So I scrounged up something.  Frozen chicken strips (from Trader Joe's not great, but they're ok), pasta with homemade pesto (me; I needed to make up the pesto or was gonna lose the basil), mac & cheese (Jim & kids), and broccoli (which was gonna rot if I didn't use it soon).  I really wasn't in the mood, but I know we got through dinner sooner than we would have otherwise.  Plus I saved money and kept food from going to waste.  An added bonus is that I now have a huge batch of fresh pesto in the freezer, waiting to use with a nice meal.  Woot!

Oh, and I even cleaned up all of the dishes (today, for some reason, must have been Small Appliance day, as I had to clean the juicer, a small crockpot, and the food processor).  Now it's time to relax.  Ahhhhhh.

Work today was a bitch.  We have partially working code that I have to get converted to using a different kind of UI (TreeView replacing a ListView, for anyone who cares).  So step 1 (which has taken me for-freaking-ever) is to get all of the ListView stuff that's implemented working in TreeView.  Step 2 is to add in all the stuff that wasn't even added in for the initial phase yet.

I was determined to get step 1 done today, just because I'm sick and tired of it looming over my head.  I'm close.  I have code *written*, and it compiles, but I haven't tested it yet.  But at least I have something to work with.  This project overall has been taking me way to damn long and I need to get through it.

Now I'm tired and brain dead.  After a day like today, I barely have the mental capacity to pour myself a cold one, let alone make dinner (especially since I only have something pseudo-planned).  Looks like we'll be getting take-out, even though I really don't have the energy to do that, either.  Can't the kids skip dinner for just one day?

My dad used to sing this old Stones classic to me when I was  a little girl and wanted something that I couldn't have.  This used to piss me off immensely, but now I just chuckle.

This post is going to be about me sorting things out "out loud" if you will.  Probably a lot of rambling.  Feel free to move on, but if you care to read and care to comment, I'd certainly welcome it.

I know I've complained before that I don't like living in Arizona, I miss my parents, and I really want to live in the forest.  I know those last two things are mutually exclusive; my parents live in central Texas, not even in the hill country, but on what used to be flat farmland.  Compared to here it's a rain forest, but really, I have to admit that living near them would not satisfy my craving to live amongst tall trees.  You know, the kind that are so tall that you can hear the wind in the tops of them while the air hardly stirs down below.  I *love* that sound.

When I'm in an environment like that, I feel like I'm complete, like some piece of me that is normally missing has locked into place.  I yearn to have that feeling all the time, but does that mean that I *need* it?   Probably not...I've never lived in that environment (aside from a short stint in New Caney, Texas, when I was 3-4, which I barely even remember), and I seem to have survived so far.  In my more dramatic (read: whiny) moments, I can imagine myself living my life, never fulfilling this dream, and what a tragedy that would be.  People could write sad poetry about me and shed tears for the woman whose life dream was never fulfilled.  I could die a martyr, sacrificing myself for the wants and needs of my family.  Bleh.

And then there's my parents.  This desire/need is probably more realistic, certainly something I can ascribe more validity to, although I don't always feel it as strongly.  I really, really miss them.  Especially my dad.  I get back to visit twice a year if I'm lucky.  I could possibly make it more, but what  I really miss is being able to drop over for a visit on the weekends.  They still work a lot, so when I do go back to visit, I really have to stay a long time to get to spend much time with them.  Fortunately, at least for now, I can telecommute from their house almost as well as i can from mine (I do have phone issues, but nothing I can't work around), but there's only so much time I feel comfortable spending away from my children, and that I feel comfortable asking Jim to stick it out alone with the kids with.  Sure, he *can* do it, and plenty of people put up with far more (I'm specifically thinking of my friend who has two kids and a husband who is deployed in Iraq).

So, what to do.  Jim doesn't really want to move to Texas.  I think if I really put my foot down, I could make it happen, anyway.  Realistically, he doesn't have a valid reason to say no.  I haven't wanted to live here for several years now, so it's only fair that i get a turn to get what I want.  But it's hard for me to want to play that card; I'm not generally that assertive and I'm not so sure it would be good for the relationship.  And then I have this "live in the forest thing" always hanging around in my head, and lo and behold, he tells me he's willing to try living in the Pacific Northwest.  This certainly meets my forest need and is something he says he can live with.  The down side is I am no longer  a day's drive (and I'm a *long* day's drive now...16 hours minimum) from my parents; far from it, in fact.  Plane tickets are increasingly expensive, and to take all 4 of us or even just me and the kids is a substantial expense.

While I was laid off in November, I interviewed for jobs in Seattle.  I absolutely loved it there...everything just seemed to be falling into place.  I *really* thought I was going to get one of the jobs.  And I really don't think it was just a matter of  me wanting it (even though I did), everything just felt like it was coming together.  Then it didn't work out  and I almost felt like the universe was just toying with me at that point.  To let me get so close to escape, and then rip it away from me.

But the truth is, it's a terrible time for us to move.  Our house isn't ready to sell or rent, and I'm not even sure if we could rent or sell it in this market.  We *cannot* afford two house payments.  And I'm adamant that my kids go to an alternative school.  This is not at all about me getting them away from certain types of people, and all about the fact that I have huge issues with the format and methods of mainstream public education.  My point being I don't necessarily want them in a private school, not only because of the expense, but because it almost automatically brings along a certain amount of snootiness for the ride, which I *don't* want.  But if my choices were regular mainstream public school or private (a private school that I agree with), I'd do my damndest to get them into private.  I've had a strong feeling since Michael was small that I needed to find something for them.  And you know, I've found that here in Phoenix.  I have them in a public charter Waldorf school.  It's not perfect and there are some things I'm not crazy about.  But overall I like it.  My children seem to be thriving there.  There is a wonderful community there.  I feel good about sending them there every day.  And that is really the huge thing...my other options in location  would require (based on my personal requirements) that I pony up and send them to private school.  Jim could get more work to pay for it, but it seems silly for him to generate more income just to throw it at a school.  We both agreed that if we moved that's what we'd do.

So that's my conundrum.  My choices are:
- Texas (Austin): gets me closer to my parents, housing is more affordable, it's possible for me to live some place wooded and beautiful there.  But I'd have to do the private school thing.
- Seattle: gives me that whole forest thing I want (need?).  I think I can eventually get a job I want there (my current one allows me to telecommute, but I don't know how long it will last, so I have to think ahead).  Jim would be happier here.  But I'd be further from my parents, and I'd have to do the private school ting.
- Portland: again, gives me that whole forest thing.  I could telecommute from there now, but I'm not so sure I could find a suitable job for myself if I needed to (no worse than here in Phoenix; when I looked at the end of last year I wasn't happy with the options, either).  Portland *does* have a Waldorf charter school, which is a huge plus and the only reason I'd choose it over Seattle.  And again, I'd be much further from my parents.
- Stay here: probably the best decision financially, simply because we don't have to incur a moving expense and/or deal with changing housing.  Kids get to stay in the school that they love and that so far we are happy with.  Still far away from my parents, but closer than the NW.  The real downside here is that I feel smothered and it feels so lifeless here.  When I put it down on paper, it just seems like I'm whining.  But the feeling is very real, and it's bothered me for years, so I'm not so sure I should just ignore it either.  Edited to add:  The other huge thing about staying here is that I have family and a lot of friends here.  I know some people in Austin (besides my parents) and Jim has a brother in Seattle, but it would definitely be a huge deal to leave our circle of friends.  At times that seems unbearable; at other times I think that I would miss them dearly, but I would also make new friends.

Some days I have the most difficult time just getting started.  Once I get into it, I'm fine.  But it's like I need my time tooling around on the internet, accomplishing nothing.  Am I really just a slacker, or are other people this way?  I always thought I had such a strong work ethic, but I'm beginning to wonder.  I've tried setting goals for myself, such as "I will get such-and-such thingie that I'm programming working".  The problem is there are a lot of things that could take 1 hour or could take 5, and I don't always know before I start.  So then I'm setting unfair goals for myself.  I suppose that would be better than setting no goals at all.

Yeah, it's been a while since I've posted, and I feel totally lame starting back up with this. But I saw it on a friend's blog, and just wanted to do it. And it's my blog, so I can do what I want. Nyah! ;)

Highlight the ones you have done
Come on you know you want to do it too!

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you're not ill
24. Built a snow fort (well, I tried, but there wasn't really enough snow)
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing (in a rock gym)
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen (I don't remember if it was specifically soup, but I did serve food at a homeless shelter)
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter (air evac, when I was in premature labor and bleeding)
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt (partially; I never finished it)
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (with my dad when I was a little kid)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone's life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit (well, almost; ended up settling out of court, which was fine with me!)
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Read an entire book in one day